Here’s a little summer project – dresses that take me on a journey, starting here in Florida waters! I’m using my favorite knit maxi pattern, McCalls 6559, as my canvas.
My draft is size 10. I’ve sewn this version so many times that I can pretty much cut and sew, which can be really relaxing.
The front neckline is raised a bit so that it fits more nicely on my chest.
The change I love most is to the armhole, which I extended to provide a little coverage and softness over the shoulder and upper arm.
That little extension at the bottom of the armhole facilitates a beautiful finish.
And I like to finish the neckline on simple knit dresses and tees with a self-fabric band. I attach it on the inside, then fold it over and finish on the outside to diminish irritation to my neck and shoulders. Picky!
This cute fabric is STOF France Barracuda Blue, midweight cotton/lycra jersey from Fabric.com.
Well, I never imagined I would like this play on a revere neckline, but I was so wrong! A thank you and shout-out to Karen (@intostitches) for the inspiration to try this pattern! It’s actually really interesting to sew and to wear.
From Style Arc, the real name of this cutie is the Elsie Oversized Shirt:
But with a few changes, it becomes a nifty semi-fitted shirt.
Redrew the front and back hemlines and drafted a shirt-tail hem. My center back finishes at 25″, a favorite length.
Drafted a short-sleeve option.
Drafted the back with pleat or no-pleat options.
Sewed the size 10, and it’s a perfect fit.
Drafted my pattern with 1/2″ seam allowances, everywhere. The pattern includes 3/8″ and 1/4″ SAs, treacherous with woven fabrics!
Shortened the bust darts by an inch. For some reason they are drawn out past the bust apex mark. Weird.
Annoying (1) the pattern has full-width back and yoke pieces. I had to print the associated pages to get the goodies, but what a lot of wasted paper and ink, since both can be cut on the fold.
Annoying (2) it has a single-layer yoke! It’s easy enough to cut the facing, but what an oversight.
Bits and pieces:
I used cotton poplin shirting and Pellon sew-in interfacing, both from Fabric.com. And, yes, I washed and dried the interfacing before using it to avoid shrinkage when the entire garment is washed.
I like to attach pockets before things get going, whenever it’s practical.
The facing is sewn into the neckline and hand-stitched at the shoulders and bottom of the yoke.
It’s easy to reduce the bulk in a double-fold hem! My seams are serged together, stopping at a clip at the fold line. I open the remaining seam allowance, and it’s easy to make those folds.
I love rounded buttonholes on blouses 🙂
A couple close-ups, worn out:
One is never enough – I’m starting a long-sleeve version tomorrow 🙂
Absolutely indispensable – a serger. Forget pinking shears and overlocking/zigzag stitches on a sewing machine. Nothing takes the place of a serger for fabric and seam edges. IMHO, a good serger is a great investment in sewing satisfaction and professional finishes.
They work so well – powerful little beasts – that it’s easy to forget that they need care and feeding just like a sewing machine. So, some tips from a lover of a good serger.
Simple stuff – clean it. I use both brushes and cotton swabs to get into every nook and cranny. Have you used it for a few hours or on a linty project? Clean it. I actually clean mine for every project, and I do recommend this. BTW, cotton swaps are great for cleaning the bobbin race on your sewing machine.
Intuitive stuff – oil it. That machine is pumping its heart out and has so many moving parts- oil doesn’t really last very long. Your serger will love you back for a little oil. I do this frequently, and I use a wonderful oil pen.Varieties are available, Sewing Machines Plus, Wawak, etc., all refillable. They have skinny needles for easy application. Just be sure to use sewing machine oil!
Easily overlooked – the needles. Serger needles take a beating, and they should be replaced! Most of the time I have a 90/14 in my sergers, but have changed them for different threads and fabrics. My choice: Klasse universal needles – again, MHO, do not spend money on a serger-specific needle!
Don’t drop a needle into the machine while replacing it! I have a nifty brush with a helper-hole on the end, I think it came with my Juki:
The tricky bit can be threading the loopers. Try a serger needle threader! it goes in and out all those elusive spaces.
Deep cleaning – About once a month I remove all the threads from my sergers and give them a deep cleaning. I’ve had mine for years, and I think a little love goes a long way. My machines, and I recommend them both, mid-price, heavy, quiet, obedient! and old friends. I have tried air-threading machines and ones with dial-tension. I like these. The tension knobs facilitate nuance changes, really important for the loopers and needles:
Last thought – cutting blades. When is the last time you replaced these? They are like scissors, but in one project do more than a pair of scissors over many years. And they are easy and fairly inexpensive to replace.
I loved my Sew House Seven Burnside Bibs when I made them (here), but subsequently found I wasn’t wearing them. In fact, I only wore them once – mostly because the straps/belt were so fiddly and not particularly comfortable.
The pants portion, however, is terrific – great big pockets and a baggy silhouette. Really cute. So I decided to do an experiment, i.e., the paper-bag-waist-pants conversion..
Sewing notes – 4 easy steps:
Removed the bib 3/8″ above the waistband.
Opened the top of the back waistband.
Turned in the edges, front and back, and topstitched them to close.
The last step was to stitch across the back to form a casing. The stitching is in line with the front waistband – together they form a casing for elastic.
Since I had those nice long drawstrings, I put the narrow sections together for an additional option!
I like these pants so much that I’m planning another pair, maybe not paper-bag, but with a wide waistband.